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 Quotes from interviews with two Holocaust survivors who witnessed the so-called "Anschluss".

After the "Anschluss" of Austria in March 1938 her Jewish population was persecuted and deprived of their basic rights by the authorities of the Nazi state. In addition there were brutal excesses against the big Jewish community in Vienna with wide-scale participation of their non-Jewish co-citizens. This drew the attention to the fate of the Jews in the whole world.

Hannah Fischer

Portrait of Hannah Fischer"At the end of March 1938 my father was arrested. The neighbour of the property in Essling was a Nazi – we knew that. And this neighbor wanted our property. My father was thus summoned and asked to sign off that he was giving his property to the neighbour. My father refused to give his signature with the argument that he had purchased the property and was on the deed, and didn’t see any reason to hand it over to the neighbor. He thought that as a former front-line solider he would naturally be respected by the Nazis. The Nazis respected nothing. They arrested and interned him in the 20th district, in a school on Karajan-Gasse. That’s where Jews were collected and deported to Dachau. My father was on the so-called 'Prominent Transport' to the Dachau concentration camp on 1 April 1938. Among the 150 prisoners there were well-known politicians and opponents of the National Socialist regime, as well as Christian Socialists, Monarchists, Social Democrats, Communists, and around 50-60 people of Jewish faith or background."

Dr. Hannah Fischer, born 1925 in Vienna, grew up her twin brother Rafael Erwin in an unusual family. Their father was a rabbi and their mother a journalist with close ties to the Communist Party. Quote from an interview, conducted by Tanja Eckstein, July 2004. Source: http://www.centropa.org/biography/hannah-fischer

Paul Back

Portrait of Paul Back"First off, the Nazis wanted to demonstrate their power and secondly, they actually had things to transport make themselves at home. You began seeing people in uniform and boys in Hitler Youth shirts walking around. They were Austrians – the Germans weren’t in Vienna yet. They didn’t come directly to Vienna, since they were initially delayed by people cheering them on along the way. The Wehrmacht curried favour with the Viennese by offering food – with a field kitchen on Heldenplatz.

My grandmother’s apartment became a sort of family news center. The family was following the situation and, at first, didn’t panic. They became restless only much later, when the sanctions against the Jews were proclaimed, or when actions began, like street sweeps, harassment, and verbal abuse. You began hearing of people being kicked, or attacked, or that someone was taken away. But people were still deluding themselves. People knew it was bad, but didn’t know how bad it would get.

One of the few sanctions that got under my skin, because I was directly affected by it, were the signs on park benches that were written with 'only for Aryans' or 'not for Jews.' I often went for walks with my mother or with my cousins and we used those parks and played there. And all of a sudden we weren’t allowed to sit on the benches anymore."

Paul Back, born 1926 in Vienna as Paul Hochbaum, with family roots in Galicia, managed to escape to Palestine. Quote from an interview, conducted by Tanja Eckstein, July 2002. Source: http://www.centropa.org/biography/paul-back

 

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